Using Construction Software: Construction Documents

November 3rd, 2010 by admin

In my last post I talked about the benefits of using detailed job cost estimates, and then I started to talk about how using detailed job cost estimates (in an integrated construction software system) pays additional dividends.

An integrated construction software system is a system that shares all of its data between all of the systems functions. The advantages of using an integrated  system are:

  • You only enter each piece of information once.
  • Data entered in one part of the program can be used in other parts of the program.
  • The data entered in one part of the program can be validated for logical consistency for use in other parts of the program.
  • Because data is only entered once, there is no discrepancies between data in various parts of the system.
  • When data is changed in one part of the system, the changes are reflected in other parts of the system that may be affected.

Another benefit of using detailed job estimates in an integrated construction management system is that you can use the data in the estimate to generate a number of different types of documents for uses other than job estimating, such as:

  • create construction proposals, bids, and contracts
  • create construction schedules
  • request construction materials price quotes
  • request construction subcontract RFP’s or bids
  • create construction materials purchase orders
  • create subcontractor contracts
  • track construction costs
  • create construction invoices and AIA payment applications

Today, I’m going to talk about the first item, creating construction documents for your customers. This includes construction proposals (construction bids), construction contracts, and other construction documents that your customer needs in order to be kept informed about the construction process as it progresses.

“Keep my customer informed? Thanks but no thanks! I don’t want them breathing down my neck any more than they already do!”

Referring back to my Chicken And The Egg post, remember that your customers only fear what they don’t know. So, rather then leaving them in the dark, your relationship with your customer will actually be greatly improved if you give your customer clear and complete documentation about the job from end to end, on an ongoing basis.

And remember, you’re using integrated construction management software now, so this isn’t going to take any more work. Once you’ve created a detailed job estimate, you can just click some buttons and watch the program go to work for you…

The first thing your customer needs is a printed proposal that will clearly define the scope of the work you propose to do. There are a number of reasons both you and your customer need this, but the two main reasons are that a printed proposal gives you…

  • Something to refer to when questions arise about exactly what the customer requested and exactly what you agreed to do.
  • Something to refer to when questions arise about how much the customer agreed to pay for what you proposed.

So to create a printed job proposal, or contract, your worthy construction software system will take all of the information in your job estimate, and merge it into a “template document”, or “merge document” to produce a customized proposal or contract for your customer – complete with your company’s logo and letterhead.

A “template document”, or “merge document” is like a “mail merge” document in MS Word; it merges data from a data source (such as your job estimate, etc.) into standardized text, to generate a customized document for your customer, such as this: Fixed Sum Contract.pdf.

Merge documents allow you to develop and save standardized text that you can use over and over again to produce any number of different documents that your customers will need, or will greatly appreciate. A good construction software system will allow you to produce any of the following types of merged documents:

So, all of these documents can be produced by simply merging data that is already in your worthy construction software system into your pre-defined merge documents.

That’s pretty slick. But then what do you do with them? Print them out and hand them (or mail them) to your customers? Yes, you can do that, and a lot of folks still like paper these days. But a lot of your younger customers, being all into the internet and iPhone gizmos, might ask you to email your documents to them, or post them on the web so they can download them.

Well, your worthy construction software system should be able to do that too, without any fuss.

So see, here you have gone from simply having created a detailed job estimate to having all sorts of useful customized documents generated and printed, emailed, or posted on the internet for your customers, without doing any more work. Not so bad.

And along the way, besides having made your job estimating more accurate, you have also greatly improved your professional image!

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